A TAMWORTH fashion store manager who will trek along the Great Wall of China for charity has been overwhelmed by the generosity of local people.
Michelle Gardner, manager of Peacocks at Ankerside Shopping Centre, has thanked the many shoppers who have donated to her fund-raising bid for the Miscarriage Association.
Outdoor clothing specialist Regatta has also offered to kit out Michelle and her dad Kevin, who is making the 60 kilometre trek with her.
Michelle said: “I was really shocked as it was such a lovely thing to do and both my dad and I have been and collected loads of kit from the shop.
“There have been a lot of people coming in to the store here at the Ankerside and putting something in the collection bucket too and I never really thought about how much I could raise.
“I just thought anything was better than nothing but it’s actually going really well.”
The decision to tackle the hike was made after Kevin put forward the suggestion and his 31-year-old daughter agreed to join him.
Now the pair are in the middle of a gruelling training schedule before departing for China next month but are delighted to have been offered so much support, especially with the equipment from outdoor experts Regatta.
The move enables them to concentrate more of their fundraising on their chosen charities and Michelle is keen to raise as much as possible for the cause that offered her support when she suffered a miscarriage herself four years ago.
Her dad is raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association and they have used their own money to pay for flights and accommodation in China.
While Kevin has some experience as a regular rambler, he also completed the Macca Picchu trail a few years ago so Michelle, who lives with her mum in Hockley, near Tamworth, says he has a head start when it comes to fitness.
“I’m definitely getting fitter,” she said. “I went walking with a friend recently and noticed that she was getting out of breath and I hadn’t even thought about it so it’s definitely working!
“I’ve been doing a load of swimming but I’m adding the gym bit to the training now so that will take it up to the next level.
“I’ll be glad when it’s all over really and I don’t have to get up and go off training somewhere every day!”
Alongside her improved fitness levels, Michelle has also had very positive feedback through highlighting the cause she is fundraising for and the reasons for her decision.
She said: “I have been really shocked by how many people had never even heard of the charity and what they do.
“A lot of people have come up to me and told me that they’d been through the same thing and that has been lovely.
“It has been a bit hard sometimes but I think just talking about it more has actually really helped me.
“Knowing that other people have had all the same feelings has been good because miscarriage is something that people find it very hard to talk about.”
Ankerside Shopping Centre manager Jeff Wigley said: “I am delighted to hear that shoppers have been supporting Michelle in this way – we are at the heart of our local community and know that the people of Tamworth are very generous.
“I wish Michelle and Kevin every success in the trek next month.”
Michelle was contacted by Sarah Herne, manager of the new Regatta store at Birmingham’s Resorts World complex, after seeing media coverage of her challenge.
She said: “I read about what she was doing and I just thought it would be good to help in any way we could.
“You’ve got to give credit where credit’s due and I wish her all the best with the trip. It’s for a really good cause and I’m delighted to have been able to help.”
Pop in to Peacocks at the Ankerside Shopping Centre to sponsor Michelle or visit www.justgiving.com/michelle-gardner2